Gail and Jason spoke at yesterday’s Planning Committee meeting to reiterate their objections to the University’s latest plans for the Campus site.
They reiterated their previously submitted objections (see below) and the key issues of traffic and air pollution were central to discussions.
A member of the public also spoke in support of refusal and a representative of the University spoke in support of the application.
The unanimous vote by the Planning Committee was to refuse the application.
The Application and the Planning meeting can be viewed on www.newport.gov.uk/planning
COUNCILLORS GILES AND HUGHES have stated:
We wish to object to the above application on the following grounds:
1. Public Opposition
Since closure of the campus hundreds have attended three public meetings to date, as well as submitting written objections to the University and on social media. Opposition remains very high.
2. Air Pollution – Caerleon is an ancient historic town internationally renowned for its Roman remains, which attracts over 80,000 tourists and visitors annually. Regardless of its extremely restricted road infrastructure, there has been significant housing development resulting in a huge increase in traffic and its associated air pollution. Caerleon is a designated Air Quality Management Area and High Street is the most polluted in Newport. Air pollution is already constantly well above current EU limit resulting in High Street residents and hundreds of school pupils walking through air pollution every day. Health risks associated with air pollution are very well documented.
Pollution is also increasing in adjacent streets. Studies undertaken by Newport City Council identify the amount of traffic and the type of road infrastructure result in poor traffic flow which raises the pollution levels. This is very obvious at peak times, particularly with school traffic and the serious impact of any increase in pollution levels arising from the development cannot be underestimated nor overlooked.
There is very little parking space in Caerleon and irresponsible and inconsiderate parking is widespread, putting pedestrians, including school children, at risk.
There has been wide spread criticism of USW’s traffic impact assessment of the overall traffic flows from a proposed residential development, including a lack of confidence regarding the mitigating factors set out by the University
3. Significant residential development – Caerleon is already overdeveloped, with very little open public space other than that owned by CADW. This proposed development is considered to be inappropriate in scale and size and would potentially result in a population increase of up to 1,500 in a community with a current population of 8,000. Clearly this results in many thousands of additional car journeys adding to air pollution, traffic and parking problems. There is concern that the development of the Campus site will adversely affect the setting of the listed Campus buildings and prejudice the overall ability of Caerleon to fulfil its role as a site of recognised historic interest.
In addition there is a lack of clarity in the EIA regarding the rugby field and the Kegie (Phase 1) building. Guarantees must be obtained for the planned open spaces.
It has not been made clear how the developers plan to access and exit the site without impacting on current traffic levels and there are very strong concerns about the potentially huge disruption and disturbance the development will cause over many years.
Quality of Development – The proposed development is not of a standard that recognises the significance of the site, both historic and geographic (joining the ‘old’ town to newer developments), nor will it enhance the whole community. It appears to be low quality and high density rather than a high quality development, attractive and minimising any impact on the wider community.
4. Effects beyond the immediate area – every street in Caerleon is affected by each new home built and the car/s associated with it. All roads are adversely affected by poor traffic flow, including ingress and egress on to main roads to Newport areas and Cwmbran, and further on to the M4. Pollution and traffic levels in New Road and Belmont Hill, Caerleon, across the bridge from the main town, are increasing to significant levels. Traffic jams from the Ship Inn up Belmont Hill are now a daily occurrence, both morning and evening, with traffic queues causing regular tails back over the top of Belmont Hill.
The new hospital build is currently underway in Llanfrechfa, which can be accessed via Ponthir Road, Caerleon. There are concerns about access for emergency vehicles; it can take 20-30 mins to just travel through the town in rush hour!
Concerns have been raised about the current speed and density of traffic making a right turn out of College Crescent onto Ponthir Road very difficult, even potentially dangerous, and also the junctions to Broadwalk and Usk Vale Drive.
5. Protecting the whole community- A main concern and criticism that have been raised over decades is the fact that planning applications are decided as individual cases and do not take into account unique conditions such as those found in Caerleon. It is not about Nimbyism; it is about protecting and valuing the whole community before every inch of it is built on!
There was a sense that development in Caerleon is not being controlled in that it is increasingly detrimental.
There are concerns about the considerable pressure on:
• Caerleon’s roads and historic bridge by increases traffic and heavy vehicles.
• Pressure on local schools: Caerleon Comprehensive School, Charles Williams Church in Wales Primary School and Caerleon Lodge Hill School. It is vital that there are sufficient funds raised via any 106 Agreement.
• GP and dental services: – these are already stretched by the existing population, with residents reporting 4 week waits for an appointment. The removal of the sports facility continues to be strongly criticised, particularly at a time public health is such a priority.
6. Need for a Caerleon Plan – There is an absolutely crying need for integrated planning that takes into account Caerleon’s needs as a community, rather than individual planning applications which continue to have a combined damaging effect over time.
The recommendation by planning Officers was:
9.1 The proposal will have a significant adverse impact upon interests of acknowledged importance, namely highway capacity and the flow of traffic, residential amenity and human health. Officers have considered the merits associated with the proposal (both significant and less so) carefully and noted these in the report. Officers have also considered whether the adverse impacts identified can be suitably addressed by way of planning conditions or legal agreement and where they consider this possible, the report confirms it. The proposal represents an unparalleled set of circumstances, which although resulting in development in a location which would normally be preferred, presents a unique range of impacts that on balance will adversely effect the wider community. Officers consider that the benefits arising from the proposal would not demonstrably outweigh the objections stated in relation to highway and air quality matters and their associated effects upon highway capacity, highway safety, residential amenity and human health, as these weigh very heavily against granting planning permission for this scheme. Whilst the full elements of this proposal may, in isolation, have drawn a different conclusion to officer’s balanced judgement, it is the scheme as a whole that is to be considered and it is therefore recommended that the application should be refused.